In just a little more than a week after the mighty Newmont-Goldcorp merger was finalized, the company suspended operations of its largest gold-silver mine in Mexico. The Penasquito Mine, which produced more than a 500,000 ounces of gold and 25 million ounces of silver in a single year, has been dealing with a blockade of its operations since March 27th.
The blockade was started due to issues with the local community in regards to water supply concerns and problems with a trucking contractor. However, the protests by the local community over water rights have been going on ever since the Penasquito Mine started operations in 2010.
According to the article, Goldcorp using excessive water at Peñasquito mine – critics, research by McGill Research Group, reported that the Penasquito Mine was using three times the amount of water than it originally agreed upon. Furthermore, the large open-pit gold-silver mine, located in the state of Zacatecas, was also consuming three times the amount of water supplied to the entire City of Zacatecas (population 129,000).
To get an idea the amount of water being consumed by the Penasquito Mine, I looked at the data from Goldcorp’s most recent Sustainability Report. In 2017, the Penasquito Mine withdrew a staggering 7.9 billion gallons of water to supply its operations for the year. Of that total amount, 93% came from groundwater. That is one hell of a lot of water.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the suspension to end. However, with the election of the new President AMLO of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, large foreign mining companies in Mexico may find it increasingly challenging to GET THEIR WAY as they have in the past with the help of pro-mining leaders.
Regardless, the Penasquito Mine produced the second highest amount of silver in Mexico last year:
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